SAP back on track, says Infosys

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SAP back on track, says Infosys

Services firm confident that customers can trust SAP again.

Indian services firm Infosys has claimed that customers can now feel secure that German software giant SAP is on the road to recovery.

Rajesh K Murthy, head of Infosys' SAP Practice for the Enterprise Solutions Business Unit, said last year that SAP lost the trust of many customers after a hike in support costs.

"SAP had a difficult time. It launched the new, more expensive support offering just before the Lehman Brothers crash and, by pushing the strategy at the same time as the downturn, it managed to really aggravate customers. In hindsight, they should have done the [price] rise in a different way," he said.

"SAP also lost the trust of its employees because of the technology problems inherent in SAP Business All-in-One and SAP Business ByDesign, accompanied by reduced research and development spend. Employees no longer felt the pride of working for an innovative company.

"Last year, even when Oracle grew, SAP did not, and they have very similar portfolios. There was no reason for this as, if anything, SAP had a more impressive stack of offerings."

Murthy has faith that SAP's recent management changes will improve customer satisfaction and employee moral. At the most senior level, the SAP board replaced Leo Apotheker with Bill McDemott and Jim Hagemann Snabe as co-chief executives.

"The focus on the customer is increasing. McDermott is very client savvy and client facing, while Snabe has respect for R&D and a lot of credibility with employees," he said.

"We, like the customers, felt let down by SAP's application problems, but we feel more hopeful now. During the year we will see a turning point in SAP.

"McDermott said he expects double-digit growth. I think this expectation is extremely bullish, but I believe it should grow 48 per cent or so, which is significant considering the drop last year."

Murthy also commended SAP on the launch of Business Suite 7 in early February. The suite is more modular than previous offerings, and is aimed at delivering flexibility to businesses.

Applications contained in the suite include customer relationship management, product lifecycle management and supplier relationship management.

"Applications have been becoming more complex as the integration points between the SAP and non-SAP applications become more complicated," said Murthy.

"SAP has, until now, taken an incremental approach to evolving its stack, meaning that businesses had layers of technology bolted together in order to give a single view of the customer. For example, the new Business Objects software was built on top of the rest and this had different technology and different standards.

"A sign of when business agility was compromised was following the October 2008 crash when organisations found that they could not change prices and in-house structures as quickly as they needed to.

"Business 7 is a ground-up approach and a sign that SAP recognises that layering technology does not give businesses enough opportunity to respond to events as there are so many configurations they need to change."

Murthy is responsible for enlarging Infosys' SAP practice and the global delivery of SAP-related services ranging from road-map consulting and application upgrades to application maintenance.

As a member of Enterprise Solutions' executive council, he also defines the growth plans for SAP solutions in response to clients' requirements. Murthy worked on the first SAP project at Infosys back in 1998.

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